Membership has benefits...

Why I SME highlights exactly that: why our members choose SME as their go-to professional resource for the mining and metals industry. Each month, we’re going to ask one of our members that question: Why do you choose SME? This month, our featured member is David Bieber. Learn more about Bieber’s professional background and why he has found value in his membership with SME.

"My membership and active participation in SME led to my first full time position in the mining industry, and subsequently led to my current position. Membership continues to benefit me through the professional contacts that I have made and the information I acquire."

David Bieber

Manager of Geology/Survey

Martin Marietta Materials

Give us your background in the industry. What led you to pursue your profession?

My dad worked as a mining geologist/engineer among his many positions, and we had several very close family friends who were mining geologists. However, I started my professional career in oil and gas exploration, moved into geotechnical consulting, then moved into environmental consulting, then into construction project management, then back to environmental and geotechnical consulting work, which led to consulting for mining companies, primarily in the aggregate industry, and ultimately to my going to work for Martin Marietta Materials, my current employer.

What led you to join SME?

My dad stressed the importance of being actively involved in one’s profession, so I have always been active in the professional associations that focused on the areas I worked in. When I became involved with mining, SME stood out as the society that best aligned with my overall interests and professional attitudes.

How long have you been a member?

I joined SME in late 2012/early 2013, though I had been aware of SME for a while before that.

What do you like most about the industry?

The thing I like best about the industry is the people. The men and women who work in the mines and those who support them are some of the nicest, hardest working, and most generally good people I have had the pleasure of working with. Even though we come from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, etc., there is a common thread of civility and mutual respect that is refreshing in today’s society.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

On the positive side, the diversity of tasks/issues that I get to/have to deal with, which is also one of the most rewarding challenges. On the negative side, the misperceptions regarding modern mining and those of us who work in the industry that pervades society.

What do you find most rewarding?

The diversity of tasks and issues that I get to deal with.

How has your SME membership enhanced your career?

My membership and active participation in SME led to my first full time position in the mining industry, and subsequently led to my current position. Membership continues to benefit me through the professional contacts that I have made and the information I acquire.

Favorite benefits of SME?

My favorite benefits are my Section meetings and the Annual meeting.

What would tell your younger self about the industry or your career path?

Get involved sooner, especially on the producer side. I can honestly say that I have overall enjoyed being a part of a mining company more than my previous positions.

Who has been key in shaping your career and why?

My dad for too many reasons to list, but especially because he emphasized being a generalist who understood the pieces and how they fit together. That seems to be a far rarer skill set than the various specialties that go into mining.

Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?

Hopefully into retirement! However, once retired, I would like to focus my time and talent on changing the paradigm of reclamation such that reclamation becomes a value proposition and the reclaimed site ultimately becomes an asset in and of itself.

"My membership and active participation in SME led to my first full time position in the mining industry, and subsequently led to my current position. Membership continues to benefit me through the professional contacts that I have made and the information I acquire."

David Bieber

Manager of Geology/Survey

Martin Marietta Materials

Read my story

Give us your background in the industry. What led you to pursue your profession?

My dad worked as a mining geologist/engineer among his many positions, and we had several very close family friends who were mining geologists. However, I started my professional career in oil and gas exploration, moved into geotechnical consulting, then moved into environmental consulting, then into construction project management, then back to environmental and geotechnical consulting work, which led to consulting for mining companies, primarily in the aggregate industry, and ultimately to my going to work for Martin Marietta Materials, my current employer.

What led you to join SME?

My dad stressed the importance of being actively involved in one’s profession, so I have always been active in the professional associations that focused on the areas I worked in. When I became involved with mining, SME stood out as the society that best aligned with my overall interests and professional attitudes.

How long have you been a member?

I joined SME in late 2012/early 2013, though I had been aware of SME for a while before that.

What do you like most about the industry?

The thing I like best about the industry is the people. The men and women who work in the mines and those who support them are some of the nicest, hardest working, and most generally good people I have had the pleasure of working with. Even though we come from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, etc., there is a common thread of civility and mutual respect that is refreshing in today’s society.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

On the positive side, the diversity of tasks/issues that I get to/have to deal with, which is also one of the most rewarding challenges. On the negative side, the misperceptions regarding modern mining and those of us who work in the industry that pervades society.

What do you find most rewarding?

The diversity of tasks and issues that I get to deal with.

How has your SME membership enhanced your career?

My membership and active participation in SME led to my first full time position in the mining industry, and subsequently led to my current position. Membership continues to benefit me through the professional contacts that I have made and the information I acquire.

Favorite benefits of SME?

My favorite benefits are my Section meetings and the Annual meeting.

What would tell your younger self about the industry or your career path?

Get involved sooner, especially on the producer side. I can honestly say that I have overall enjoyed being a part of a mining company more than my previous positions.

Who has been key in shaping your career and why?

My dad for too many reasons to list, but especially because he emphasized being a generalist who understood the pieces and how they fit together. That seems to be a far rarer skill set than the various specialties that go into mining.

Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?

Hopefully into retirement! However, once retired, I would like to focus my time and talent on changing the paradigm of reclamation such that reclamation becomes a value proposition and the reclaimed site ultimately becomes an asset in and of itself.

“It's challenging to convince people that mining is a noble profession and we are not Fred Flintstone. Mining does take environmental stewardship and safety very seriously.”

Dr. Mary Poulton

Professor Emeritus

University of Arizona

Read my story

What is your background in the industry? What started you on your career path?

My dad was a geography teacher and he got me interested in geology at a very young age (like 4 years old). So I always wanted to do something with geology. In high school a teacher suggested I look into engineering. A summer camp for women in engineering at Michigan Tech my junior year of high school convinced me I could do engineering and combine it with geology. I got my degrees in geological engineering but with an emphasis in mining and have spent my career working on mining and mineral resources issues as well as oil and gas, water, environmental and health and safety.

What led you to join SME?

I joined as a member of the student chapter and then as a faculty member.

How long have you been a member?

I joined the student chapter in 1982 and as a faculty member in 1990 or there about.

What do you like most about the industry?

The challenges in the industry are fundamental to civilization. The issues are very diverse. Mining towns have strong family values and people really bond with each other.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Convincing people that mining is a noble profession and we are not Fred Flintstone. Mining does take environmental stewardship and safety very seriously. People have a negative stereotypical image of mining and it is challenging to overcome the misperceptions.

What do you find most rewarding?

Finding new ways to do things – being entrepreneurial.

When was a time during your SME membership that you felt was enhanced your career in some way?

Meeting people through committees.

Favorite benefits of SME?

Networking

What would tell your younger self about the industry or your career path that you know now?

It takes a long time to implement new technologies. Be patient and persistent.

Who has been someone that has been key in shaping your career and why?

Mark Baker. He is an entrepreneur and an out of box thinker. He started Modular Mining Systems Inc which has arguably been one of the biggest step changes in surface metal mining in the 20th century.

Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?

AI-enabled technologies for health and safety and for water and energy management; running start up companies with those technologies and having an impact on the industry.

“I am extremely grateful for those who helped me along the way and find that giving back by means of mentoring, teaching or hiring an intern or new professional are some of the most enjoyable and rewarding things that I can do.”

Everett Litton, P.E., ENV SP

Lead Tunnel Engineer

WSP

Read my story

Give us your background in the industry. What led you to pursue your profession?

I was raised in a small town south of St. Louis, with great parents and grandparents who encouraged me to explore and expand my horizons. Growing up at a young age I found myself building things, like small dams on creeks, treehouses and trails in the woods. In my teenage years, I worked construction and while I enjoyed it, I excelled academically and wanted to explore what college had to offer. I began with the intent to pursue a construction management degree, but had a wonderful professor for physics and engineering. This subsequently led me towards civil engineering, which in my opinion best mixed with my construction interest. I had a particularly great experience at an internship in Kansas City where I worked on a project in Las Vegas, Nevada called SCOP that was an ambitious program, involving tunneling beneath the River Mountains and intended to recycle water resources from Las Vegas to Lake Mead. After that summer, I knew that tunneling was where my career was headed. It excited me and I never turned back.

What led you to join SME?

I’m a member of SME because of the Underground Construction Association (UCA), which takes a leading organizational role within the tunneling community. I had a few amazing mentors while working in Kansas City and Washington, D.C. who were active with UCA of SME and encouraged participation with professional organizations, which is a great way for young professionals to engage and grow a reputation within the industry.

How long have you been a member?

I’ve been a member since 2014, including three years of volunteer service on the UCA Young Member Executive Committee from 2016 to 2019.

What do you like most about the industry?

I enjoy contributing to projects with grand ambition and those that provide tangible benefits to the environment or community. I serve as WSP’s project manager for our involvement in the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District’s Project Clear, which is an ambitious $4.7 billion initiative to improve water quality and eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the St. Louis region. I am incredibly proud to be involved in such a wonderful project that helps to improve the rivers and streams in my hometown.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Underground construction is one of the few remaining engineering disciplines that requires significant interpolation and interpretation of the ground conditions, which can vary significantly and often influences construction methods. The inherent unknowns of underground construction are one of the most challenging, yet enjoyable aspects of underground construction.

What do you find most rewarding?

I particularly enjoy giving back to the next generation. I am extremely grateful for those who helped me along the way and find that giving back by means of mentoring, teaching or hiring an intern or new professional are some of the most enjoyable and rewarding things that I can do. I see a lot of potential in students and love their passion and excitement!

Was there an experience during your SME membership that you felt enhanced your career in some way?

My involvement with the UCA Young Member Executive Committee afforded me several unique opportunities to network with industry professionals and clients across the country. I highly encourage any and all young professionals to step-up and get involved with SME, which will reward you greatly.

Favorite benefits of SME?

I particularly enjoy the North American Tunneling (NAT) Conference, which will next be held in Nashville, Tennessee on June 7-10, 2020. I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t attended this wonderful conference to participate and take advantage.

What would tell your younger self about the industry or your career path that you know now?

If you have a question or want a mentor, take action. Don’t wait for others to ask you, but rather take the initiative and reach out to someone you respect. All of us want to help contribute to your career success, but it’s hard for us to help if we don’t know your questions or that you would like to be mentored.

Who has been someone that has been key in shaping your career and why?

I am incredibly grateful to Clay Haynes, a tunnel engineer in Kansas City (at the time) who was my first supervisor in a civil engineering setting. At a very young age, Clay believed in me and allowed me to work on advanced tunneling concepts and always took the time to explain and work through things with me. He allowed me to learn the fundamentals of tunneling, gave me a wonderful opportunity and I will always be appreciative. We now work together in complimentary roles in St. Louis, cleaning up our precious waterways.

Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?

I plan to see the program through to its end here in St. Louis, but I hope in 10 years to still be working in the tunneling industry, mentoring young professionals and volunteering in a meaningful way and would like to be an Executive Committee member of the UCA. I am very appreciative of my career thus far and hopeful that the next 10 years are as good as the last 10.

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